Renaissance for LEADERS

Peak Performance Resources for Leaders by Leaders

Tag: Stress

Stress Reduces Quality of Life And Performance

With the pace of change accelerating at ever increasing rates, the world is becoming more and more stressful. How we cope with change and the resultant stress has a huge impact on our quality of life and our work performance.

Executive burnout is a direct result of an inability to cope and is a major cause of lost productivity, as is employee absenteeism and medical leave. Many high-performance people focus on one or two primary areas of life and neglect the other areas. This leads to imbalance, stress and unhappiness. Eventually, stress in one primary area of life will impact our performance in all areas.

Think about it… how can you be wired up in one area and not have this “creep” into other areas?

What would happen if our lives were optimized in all areas and fully integrated? What would happen to our quality of life and our performance?

Fragmentation Leads to Stress

Futurists commonly predict that we are moving away from separate personal and professional lives towards a life where our personal and professional lives are fully integrated.

For many of us, our lives have developed as fragmented sections or compartments. We are one way at work, and altogether different in our personal life. This leads to a split personality: the work persona and the home persona and never the twain shall meet. Our feelings get left at home, and the very fabric of what makes us human gets left out of the workplace.

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Denial

Denial is a defense mechanism in which a person who is faced with a fact, feeling, situation or reality that is uncomfortable or painful to accept, repeatedly rejects it, despite overwhelming evidence.

Three different types of Denial are as follows:

  1. “Basic Denial” is when the person outright denies the reality of an unpleasant fact, feeling, situation or reality.
  2. “Minimization” is when a person admits the fact, but denies how serious it is.
  3. “Transference” is when a person admits the facts and seriousness, but denies any responsibility and transfers responsibility to someone else.

Financial Stress

I noted an interesting statistic today.  The most popular post on this BLOG relates to dealing with stress.  This has got me thinking… Since October 2008, what is on most people’s minds is the financial crisis and how this continuing crisis is going to impact our companies, our investments, our finances and our personal lives.

What does financial stress have to do with leadership?  Everything!  If you are feeling nervous, anxious or even outright terror at the thought of not making ends meet, the first person for you to lead is yourself.  It is very difficult to be creative, resourceful and confident when you are dealing with the various mind-numbing hormones we experience as fear.

So how do you lead yourself?

Often (but not always) our mind speculates as to what could happen and we conjure up images of the worst case scenario, which in most cases turns out to be worse than reality.

Leading yourself requires objectivity.  If you consider the worst case scenario versus the best case scenario, first figure out ways you can live with the worst case. Then from this place, you can calmly consider possible courses of action that you could take to avert the worst case.  And in most cases, reality tends to be somewhere in between the worst and the best case.

On the other hand, if you avoid the worst case, pretend it won’t happen (denial), and go on as if nothing is going to happen… you have a very good chance of going through the worst case scenario in reality!

So accepting the worst case allows you to let go of the fear and to think calmly of what can be done with the resources at hand.  Once you have a number of items that you can take action on immediately, a strange thing happens.  Fear turns to confidence… confusion is replaced with clarity.

Having a plan – any plan – is far better than no plan at all.  At least with a plan you have certainty of what you can do.  And if it does not work, you can at least be confident in the knowledge that you succeeded in finding out what does not work.  Then you can try another approach, and another… until you succeed. Accepting the worst case and then having a plan will reduce your stress, especially when you take action on your plan.

Another possibility is to look at the financial crisis as an opportunity. This will empower you to make changes that you would not otherwise make. Oftentimes, when things don’t flow, we have an opportunity to examine why they are not flowing.  Whereas, when the money is easily flowing, we would continue on unchanged and not question what we are doing.

So the financial crisis is an ideal opportunity to re-examine what is flowing and what isn’t so we can make different choices.

Over the next few days and weeks we will write more about stress, the financial crisis and how to cope with it.  Stay tuned.

Cost of Mental Illness

A recent study of 30,000 workers showed that individuals suffering from depression took an average of 30 days off work while stress-sufferers were away for 21 days.

This research shows just how important it is for managers and HR professionals to take early action to support individuals before their condition deteriorates into a long-term sick leave problem.

– Chartered Institute of Personal Development

Dealing with Stress

Most people turn to one of three methods to deal with stress: the band-aid approach, the stress management approach or the denial approach.  Unfortunately, none of these approaches work long term.  The most effective way to handle stress – without drugs, relaxation exercises or stress management techniques – is to recognize and deal with the underlying causes.  These underlying causes are often unsolvable problems.  Solve the problem, and the stress goes away.  Without solving the problem – no amount of relaxation or management techniques will prevent the stress from returning…

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